Category Archives: My Books

Some Thoughts on Nature Spirituality From the Ground Up

Last night I finished looking over the proofs for my next book, Nature Spirituality From the Ground Up, which will be coming out in January 2016. One of the things that struck me was how much of the book is spent simply showing readers how to connect with the land they live with. Most books on totemism and nature spirits give a bit of context, and then leap into the “how to find your guide” exercises. It’s not until the very last bit of the second chapter that we even start trying to contact totems. Even after that point, many of the exercises are intimately linked to the physical land, getting people outside and in direct contact where possible (though the material is still accessible to those who may be housebound).

Here in the U.S., most people are critically detached from the rest of nature, at least in their perception. This book is meant to help them reconnect, not just for self-help, but because we live in such an acutely anthropocentric world that we rarely consider the effects of our actions on the other beings in the world (to include other human beings). The problem seems immense: few of us give any thought to our environmental impact, either in part or in whole. When we are unwillingly confronted with it, it’s often in the most catastrophic manners–global climate change, mass deforestation, entire species disappearing overnight. We’ve learned to simply shut off the part that cares about nature any further than maybe sorting the recycling every week.

We’re afraid to care, because caring hurts. It’s hard to find hope in a world where the environmental news is largely bad. As far as I’m concerned, though, where there’s life, there’s hope. And I want to help people find that hope as a motivator to making the world–not just themselves–healthier and better. But because we’re used to seeing “THE ENVIRONMENT” as one big global problem, I reintroduce people to their local land–their bioregion–first in small steps, and then greater ones.

Some of that may be old hat to my nature pagan compatriots. After all, we’ve been hiking and wildcrafting and paying attention to the rest of nature for years. But this book isn’t only meant for the proverbial choir. There are plenty of people interested in non-indigenous totemism who wouldn’t describe themselves as “pagan”. Some of them are looking for self-improvement; others have some inkling that a being is trying to contact them, but they aren’t sure how to proceed. Still others want to feel connected to the greater world around them, but are too used to heavily structured spiritual paths that allow little room for personal experience.

That personal experience is absolutely crucial to my writing and the exercises I offer readers. If we’re going to reconnect with the rest of nature, we have to make it relevant to our own lives. Most of us in this country are used to being preached at, something the dominant religion is good at. But we quickly learn to tune it out, the same way we often tune out the messages about how horrible we are in our environmental practices.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about human psychology, it’s that most of us don’t do well when we’re being yelled at. There really is something to that whole “you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar” adage. Environmental scare headlines try to terrify people into reconnecting enough to take responsibility, but that approach can be counterproductive. By making reconnection a positive, constructive and appealing concept, I hope to get people interested not just in their own personal spirituality, but how that spirituality is set in a greater world context.

From the beginning, Nature Spirituality From the Ground Up talks about the importance of totemism in relation to entire ecosystems, not just “me, me, me, what can I get out of having a totem?” Most of the books I’ve read on the topic are mostly about how the reader can connect with individual totems; there’s very little about the context all that happens in. And that goes right back into the anthropocentrism I’m trying to counteract,.

I’ve had the occasional reviewer complain that the material in my books isn’t “hardcore” enough because I rely primarily on guided meditations and accessible excursions into open areas, that I’m not telling people how to take hallucinogenic plants and soar off into the spirit world, or spend twenty days fasting in the wilderness. Well, of course not! That’s not the kind of thing that I think can be appropriately–or safely–conveyed through a book. Most people simply aren’t cut out for that much hardship and risk, and I don’t think they should be denied this sort of spirituality simply because their bodies or minds may not be able to handle ordeals, or because they lack the money to travel to remote locations in South America for entheogenic training.

As an author (and by extension a teacher) it’s my job to meet people where they’re at and help them explore someplace new. I am a product of my culture, and so is my writing. I am not part of a culture that lives close to the land and its harsh realities; mine is conveniently cushioned through technology and the idea that we are superior animals to the rest of the world. We don’t have a culture-wide system for intense rites of passage or life-changing altered states of consciousness. And I don’t have the qualifications to single-handedly create such a system, beyond what help with personal rites I can give as a Masters-level mental health counselor.

So are my practices gentler than traditional indigenous practices worldwide? Absolutely. That’s what most people in my culture can reasonably handle at this point. Trying to force them into something more intense would go over about as well as Captain Howdy’s rantings about “being awakened” in Strangeland. Sure, sudden and seemingly catastrophic experiences can cause a person to reach higher levels of inner strength and ability–but they can also cause severe physical and psychological trauma, or even kill. And, again, since we don’t have a culture in which everyone goes through an intense rite of passage at a certain age (such as adulthood), we can’t expect everyone to accept such a thing immediately.

Maybe that’s not what we need, anyway. Plenty of people engage in outdoor, nature-loving activities like backpacking, kayaking and rock climbing without the foremost notion being that they’re going into some intensely scary and dangerous place that could kill them in a moment. Most experienced outdoors people are fully aware of the risks and take necessary precautions, but their primary intent is connecting in a positive way with the rest of nature.

I think it’s okay for our nature spirituality to be the same way. I don’t think we always have to work things up as “BEWARE NATURE WILL KILL YOU AND YOU HAVE TO DO THINGS THAT COULD POSSIBLY KILL YOU IN ORDER TO FIND GUIDANCE”. I’ve spent almost twenty years gradually rediscovering my childhood love of the outdoors and its denizens, as well as developing a deeper appreciation for it. I’ve had plenty of transformative experiences without fasts or hallucinogens, and they’ve served to both improve myself as a person AND make me feel even more connected to and responsible for the rest of nature.

Does that mean there’s no place for ordeals? No; they have their place for the people who respond well to them. But they shouldn’t be held up as the one and only way to do nature spirit work. Again: meet people where they’re at, whether that’s on the couch or on the trail. You’ll reach more people, and create change on a broader scale as more people participate in the ways they’re able. And isn’t that change ultimately what we’re after, those of us who want to save the world?

Like this post? Please consider pre-ordering a copy of Nature Spirituality From the Ground Up: Connect With Totems In Your Ecosystem!

Preorders Open For My Next Book, “Nature Spirituality From the Ground Up”!

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Preorders for my next book are officially open! Nature Spirituality From the Ground Up: Connect With Totems In Your Ecosystem is due for release from Llewellyn Worldwide this January. If you’ve enjoyed my previous writings on (nonindigenous) bioregional totemism, you’ll love this book. It’s entirely dedicated to working with not just animals, but plants, fungi, minerals and more, all toward getting to know the land you live in better and rejoin the community of nature.

You can find out more about this book and preorder an autographed copy directly from me, to be shipped when I receive my first shipment of books in January, right here on my website. And here’s more information on all my current books!

If you like this, please reblog/share–we authors appreciate when folks spread the word about our writing! And thank you 🙂

A Couple of Important Patreon Changes/Perks!

This is your last chance to get a copy of my next book,Nature Spirituality From the Ground Up, for free!

Over at my Patreon account, the Book of the Month Patron package at $25 ($35 for international folks) is going to change next month! it is currently six months until my next book, Nature Spirituality from the Ground Up, comes out. Currently, Patrons at that level receive one of my books a month until, after seven months they have all of the books pictured. They will also receive a free copy of Nature Spirituality From the Ground Up when it comes out in January 2016.

Starting on August 1, 2015, the package will change. Patrons who remain at that level for eight months will get one of my current books, to include Nature Spirituality From the Ground Up, per month. And at the end of eight months, I will be adding their name to a special preorder list; people on that list will end up getting a free copy of my next book (NOT including the Tarot of Bones deck and book), even if they are no longer my Patron when it comes out. For sake of transparency, I do not currently have another book contracted, but I have one manuscript I’m shopping around and a proposal I’m about to write, so I’m not about to retire as an author. And hey–whatever it’ll be and whenever it shows up, it’ll be absolutely free!

So sign up as my Patron in the Book of the Month package ($25 U.S., $35 international) by July 31, 2015, and get in on the free copy of Nature Spirituality From the Ground Up while you can!

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Have you always wanted one of my wolf headdresses but weren’t able to pay for it all at once? I’m now offering a unique payment plan via my Patreon account! Give $100/month for an entire year, and not only will you get a custom-made wolf headdress at the end of that year, but for your first month you’ll get a trio of fox tails. Plus you’ll have access to my Patron-only feed with exclusive content and sneak peeks, my monthly Totem Profiles, and other goodies. And for those for whom $100 is a bit much, I also still have my $30/month red fox headdress program that works the same way.

Interested? You can become my Patron for as little as $1/month right here!

PNBA Trade Show Signing This Weekend

I am pleased to be representing one of my publishers, Llewellyn, at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Association Fall Trade Show this weekend in Tacoma, WA. I will be signing copies of my newest book, Plant and Fungus Totems: Connect With Spirits of Field, Forest and Garden, at 2:30pm on Saturday. Many thanks to Kat Sanborn, my publicist at Llewellyn, for helping to arrange this opportunity!

A Very Special Announcement For My Readers, Fans, and the Like

I have been making my art since 1998. My first article was published in Sagewoman in 2004. 2006 saw the publication of my first book and the creation of my first serious blog. Over the years I’ve explored many different avenues for getting my work out there, from writing for countless publications in pixels and paper, to expanding my vending setup to make it easier to meet you all in person, to stepping just a teensy bit into the gallery scene, among other ventures both successful and ill-conceived.

All along the way I’ve had the support of so many people. You’ve cheered me on, given me constructive feedback, shared your own experiences and questions with me, and introduced others to my art and writing. And, certainly not of the least importance, you’ve supported my work financially, buying my art and books, attending paid workshops, purchasing totem readings, and otherwise compensating me for my time and effort and creations. In short, you’ve given me a part of yourselves so that I can continue to have a roof over my head (and more art supplies under that roof!) All of that tells me that you like my work and want to keep seeing me create things.

woodknife1Your support has helped me become more productive; I’ve been completely self-employed since 2011, which, of course, means that I get to art and write full-time. (More than full-time, really–eighty hour weeks are not uncommon here.) One of the challenges of this otherwise awesome situation is that there’s no steady paycheck. I could have a week where I pull in a four figure sum, and then the next week I make just enough to get some quarters for the laundry. While it’s a challenge I’m up to, I want to make this a more sustainable venture.

Which is why I’d like to introduce you to my Patreon profile. Patreon is a platform that allows artists to share content (including exclusive works) with modern-day artistic patrons who make a monthly financial contribution to the artist’s efforts. You don’t have to give a whole lot, either. For just one dollar a month, you get access to patron-only content–sneak peeks of blog posts days before they go public, work in progress pictures of art, and other things that patrons alone will be the first–or only–to see. And there are other monthly perks depending on level of patronage, including but not limited to:

–Monthly profiles of animal, plant, fungus and other totems, viewable only to my patrons and not to be posted to this blog
–A “book of the month club” where I’ll send you one of my currently available books every month until you have the entire set
–Several art subscription opportunities, where each month I send you something I made, from jewelry to ritual tools to elaborate costumes
–Three different cabinet of curiosities subscriptions, where each month I send you a selection of curiosities I’ve made or curated, and at the end of six months you have a complete collection, including a booklet that I’ve written to explain the theme of the collection and what makes each piece in it awesome

booksPlus there are even MORE perks for you if the total amount given by all my current patrons reaches certain milestones. The first time it hits $100 per month, every patron gets a hand-drawn thank you card from me. On the other hand, if I somehow accumulate enough patrons giving enough money that I’m making $2,500 per month, I’m going to write you a full-length book. (No, seriously. I will write a book, minimum 45,000 words, on some topic of nature spirituality, and self-publish it in both ebook and paperback format, and my patrons will get a free copy, and no one else will have access to it for at least a year. I would LOVE to write you a book, just sayin’.)

What do I get out of this? Not just money. I get stability and more of an ability to budget from month to month. And that’s a huge benefit. Knowing that I am guaranteed to get a certain amount of money coming in from my patrons, regardless of whatever other sales and income I get, helps reduce the stress of chasing after dollars.

Moreover, it tells me that those who choose to become my patrons really want to see me keep making creative things. I love making art and writing for myself, don’t get me wrong, but it takes other people loving my art and writing enough to compensate me for it that allows me to keep creating at the rate that I do. And at the end of the day, it feels really, really good that enough people like what I do to enable me to be a full-time creative sort. It’s a great motivator to keep making cool things happen.

So. Sound like a good opportunity to you, too? Then head on over to my Patreon profile, and see what patronage level works best for you!

(And thank you. Again and again and again.)

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Books + Free Shipping = Yes!

A couple of brief but important notes regarding my books and the ordering thereof.

First, I just got a new shipment of New Paths to Animal Totems in late last week, and I still have a small number of my first shipment of Plant and Fungus Totems left (and will be ordering more soon!) While these books can certainly stand alone and you don’t need to have one to read the other, they are nicely complementary. Since I think they make a cute couple, between now and noon PST this Saturday, May 17, if you buy both books through my website–not Etsy, not eBay, not Amazon, just thegreenwolf.com–you’ll get free shipping! (Or, more specifically, I’ll refund the cost of shipping through Paypal once I see that your order has come in, so there may be a slight delay between your order and my refund if I’m away from the computer, sleeping, etc.)And, of course, both books will be signed; put a note in with your Paypal order or email me at lupa.greenwolf(at)gmail(d0t)com if you’d like them personalized. If you are unable to use Paypal and want to send a check or money order instead, again email me and I’ll tell you how to proceed.

Second, in case you missed it in my last book post, I discovered last week that the WordPress/Paypal shopping cart plugin that I had installed when I redesigned the site last March decided to stop working correctly. I have a small number of aborted orders where I have no information on who was trying to place the order, what book(s) they were trying to buy, and no money arrived in my account. All I know is that someone tried to click the “buy it” button and that’s it. I have since reverted to my tried-and-true Paypal buttons, even if they aren’t as pretty, because I know they work. So if you were one of those folks attempting to bring home my writing in dead tree form, the way is ready for you. Also, if you have ordered recently and you haven’t received your book by the end of May, please contact me at lupa.greenwolf(at)gmail(d0t)com with a copy of your receipt and I’ll make sure to put everything to rights.

Alright, this’ll be the last book post for a while. I’ll get back to my observations, opinions and other ocular offerings later this week.

Books, Blogs, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Lupa news round-up! Here’s what I’ve got for you dear readers:

–My newest book is out! Plant and Fungus Totems: Connect With Spirits of Field, Forest and Garden is a continuation of my spiritual explorations the past several years. In it I focus on what fungus and plant totems are and how they’re unique from their animal counterparts (and each other!), different ways of working with them, and how to give back to them and their ecosystems, among other topics of interest. As with all my books, this is no mere dictionary stuffed with page-fillers, but instead a versatile toolkit to apply to your practice. You can read more about it and buy a copy here.

–In a similar vein, I just today discovered that the shopping cart feature on my website has not been working since I switched it over in March. The back end showed that a few people tried to buy books, but I got absolutely no information other than a date and time, and no money was received here. If you were one of those people (or if you still want to order books from here instead of at my Etsy shop), I have reverted back to the old Buy Now buttons which, while not a pretty, are proven to be effective. My sincerest apologies for the inconvenience.

–If you’d like to sample even more of my writing for absolutely free, one of my co-writers at the now-defunct No Unsacred Place, Rua Lupa, has teamed up with me to offer you all a new blog at Patheos, Paths Through the Forests. We’ll be continuing our thoughts and conversations on nature, bioregionalism, spirituality, and more. While I’ll occasionally post a link round-up here, you can get more frequent updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus. Rua Lupa’s already posted there, and my first official post is due out Thursday of this week.

–Finally, thanks to sales at Faire in the Grove this past weekend, I was able to make a donation to the Monterey Bay Aquarium! They are a world leader in research on marine biology and ocean health, as well as the developers of the Seafood Watch pamphlet, website feature and phone app, which allow you to look up which seafood choices are sustainable, and which to avoid. Plus they always have an amazing array of sea creatures on display at the aquarium itself, well-cared-for and healthy, and accompanied by plenty of information. You can find out more about the Monterey Bay Aquarium and their work at www.montereybayaquarium.org/